5 Best Guitar Amps Under $400: Top Budget Amplifiers

As you dive further into the world of guitar amps you might have noticed something: they can get very expensive. Enthusiasts can easily spend thousands on a new amplifier, but that doesn’t mean you have to drain your bank account to get hold of a solid amplifier.

Since you’ve landed on this article, you’re in the market for a guitar amp for less than $400. You’re in luck because, in this article, I have reviewed the 5 best guitar amps under $400 for you to choose from.

My recommendation for the best guitar amp under $400 is the BOSS Katana MKII-100. This guitar amp is an absolute bargain. Its overall quality and built-in effects are super decent. Despite its wattage, it’s a force to be reckoned with and holds its own in a band, as well as being a great practice amp due to its low noise floor.

Unquestionably, the BOSS Katana MKII-100 is an excellent choice if you’re a beginner looking for an amplifier that allows you to experiment with your sound without breaking the bank. 

It’s also a great choice if you’re an experienced player who usually opts for a tube amp since this Boss amp is an excellent digital alternative that’s affordable & reliable: best of all, it mimics the analog sound to a T. 

In the next section of this article, you can read a more detailed review of this awesome amp.

Guitar Amps Reviewed In This Article

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1. BOSS Katana MKII-100

The Boss Katana MK2 is a Digital Signal Processor based amp that is programmed to give you five amp voicing and five independent effect sections. 

The amplifier is a 1×12″ speaker combo with variable power control and a stereo expand the option to run multiple Katanas in stereo. 

The Boss Tone Studio lets you customize your sounds quickly and easily.

The Katana MKII has looks elegant and simple with its functional all-black cabinet design and user-friendly control layout. 

The discrete look of this amp means it will happily blend into the background of any stage. 

The amp comes with a variation button (just like previous MK2 models) which expands on the number of voicings the Katana has to offer.

Once you activate this feature, you are provided a different variation of the 5 already well-known presets. You could essentially consider this up to 10 voicings to play.

Another great new feature is the new dual concentric effects controls. This gives you more freedom to use effects how you like and allows you to stack different effects on top of each other.

This amazing amp also has the ability to plug straight into the power amp. This is designed to be used with external amp modelers and multi-FX units, meaning you can bypass the amp models built-in to the Katana, and simply take advantage of the 100W of power and crystal clear speaker.

I can assure you that the new Katana is every bit as sturdy and reliable as its predecessor. Like all Boss products, this amp feels practically bomb-proof. For me, it’s a must for any gigging amp to be dependable, and the Katana MKII is undoubtedly that. 

Pros

  • Robust build quality
  • Clean sound
  • Great crunch and distortion tone
  • Many effects onboard
  • Sounds good at higher volumes
  • Value for money

Cons

  • GA-FC is an optional extra

2. Fender Rumble Studio 40

The Fender Rumble Studio 40 is an ideal digital amp for the studio and rehearsing. The Rumble Studio features 40 watts that power one hot 10″ driver that kicks out a solid bass tone. 

This cabinet is tough and well-built. It is quite compact, being only 12 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches and, therefore, easy to move around if necessary, and it is also lightweight at 18 pounds. The design is a ported enclosure, and it has a removable front grille.

The Rumble Studio 40 can muster impressive volume for its size and weight. The amp is ideal for practice or a spot near a computer for tracking (thank you, USB audio port), but it could also tackle a small coffeehouse gig with ease.

The amp has all the basics of control – Master, Level, and Gain with Treble and Bass. There is also a High-mid and Low-mid and Drive feature. This acts a little bit like a basic EQ.

It also has an overdrive circuit that has a manual control along with an optional footswitch.

The Fender Rumble 40 has a sound voicing option with three choices. The three choices are Contour, and this varies the mid-range sounds, Bright for giving a boost to the top end. Finally my favorite, Vintage.

As a starter amp, it is very good indeed. At a reasonable volume level, it is great for practice. 

It also has just enough onboard to give you a few sound-shaping options. The depth is good without being overpowering, but it starts to struggle as the volume increases. 

This is mostly because it is a 10” speaker for bass, after all.

Pros

  • Good sounds on the whole.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Solid, well-built construction.
  • Superb ‘Vintage’ setting.
  • Lots of connectivity.

Cons

  • Not exactly loud at 40 watts, which limits how it can be used.
  • Some confusing controls and overdrive circuit that doesn’t add much to the sound.

3. BOSS Katana Head MkII

The BOSS Katana Head MKII is designed to be a highly affordable solid-state amp with true Class A/B design that feels and sounds just like the expensive, non-master volume tube amps that guitarists love, the Katana took Boss’ tonal knowledge derived from the Waza amp and distilled it into a small, much more affordable package.

I can assure you that the Katana Head MkII is a powerful tool in the hands of any electric or acoustic player. 

Compared to the previous model, Boss has doubled the number of preset slots onboard for live use. These can be selected from the front panel or from any Boss footswitch and allow users to store more presets without the need for a computer hooked up using Boss Tone Studio. 

Three new effects have been added, bringing the total to an incredible 58 at this point. 

The Line Out has also been upgraded with new options for the ‘feel’ of the signal fed from the Line Out, Headphones and USB recording out. 

Effectively giving you access to three different microphone voicings via the Boss Tone Studio software, Rec, Live, and Blend modes offer three different feels/sounds for DI’d recorded tones or for live use when running the Katana to the front of the house or for monitoring on stage.

It also has other features such as four amp types which are Clean, Crunch, Lead, and Brown. 

The Katana Head MkII supports 60 timeless BOSS effects, and you can load an entire series of them for instant access. The amp’s Booster/Mod, FX/Delay, and Reverb controls give you easy one-knob access to each effects type, with a color-coded button to switch between preset effects.

Pros

  • Outstanding sound
  • Versatility with many tones
  • Incredible value

Cons

  • Effects Controls are a bit complicated for beginners

4. VOX VT40X Modeling Amp

The Vox VT40X is a DSP and tube hybrid combo amplifier that offers 11 realistic amp models and 13 effects. Built inside the sealed cabinet is a 10″ speaker that delivers powerful and a realistic Vox Valvetronix tube tone.

The Vox VT40X features updated modeling algorithms that sound closer to the real thing than ever, thanks to the utilization of a real tube. 

The power amp section is driven by a 12 AX7 tube, which works in conjunction with 11 (up to 20 with software editor) distinct amp models and 13 effects that you can tweak, mix and edit to taste.

The Vox VT40X amplifier is definitely one of the best guitar amps under $400 and it is ideal for guitarists who want to experience the best of both worlds – tube tones and digital amp modeling – at a more reasonable price point.

On the surface, the VT40X’s control panel looks quite similar to the old Valvetronix amps, but with some new features, most notably the class and bias buttons.

These allow selection of class A or class AB, as well as shifting the bias voltage from normal to either cold or hot modes. 

Both buttons change the VT40X’s dynamic response, affecting the Valve Reactor circuit, which uses a real 12AX7 valve to provide a more realistic valve-driven tone and response.

Vox has really done a great job with this modeler! The amp is capable of some great clean sounds which feel dynamic and warm which is hard to capture in the digital world. 

I used a few different guitars to test the amp, and the Vox VT40X made each guitar sound amazingly different.

The VT40X is a great choice for hobby players and intermediate-level guitarists. You get all the great amp models and effects in a single 1×10 combo, and for many players, this amp is all they’ll ever need.

Pros

  • Amazing build quality and design
  • Produces clear sounds 
  • Small, compact, and light
  • Effects onboard
  • Output volume covers most applications
  • Recording sound is good

Cons

  • Handle Is off-center which puts it off-balance when carried

5. Fender Mustang GTX 50

The GTX-50 features a 12-inch Celestion speaker with 50 watts of power, weighing in at a beauteous 20 lbs. It has 40 quality crafted amp models, dozens of effects, and over 200 presets. Finding a great-sounding, usable tone is easy and efficient. 

Onboard, the GTX features an LCD color display and a familiar Fender knob layout. You’ll want to download the Fender Tone app, though, as this amp really shines with this functionality. 

This iOS or Android app allows you to dive into the amps, pedals, and effects as if they were the real thing, in the room with you. 

You can save and load presets through Fender Tone as well and might find yourself not even touching the amp.

This super flexible 50-watt workhorse is equipped with a whole library of very believable amp and effect simulations, in turn providing an all-purpose solution for the modern guitarist and taking the place of multiple amps and effects units with a minimum amount of hardware.

The Overdrive and Fuzz tones have a depth and throatiness to them that is rarely encountered in amps of this type, while the Mustang GTX 50 also offers some of the most sonically pleasing high-frequency break up of anything I’ve heard in the digital domain.

The amp has an effects loop and XLR line-out sockets on the back, which can be used in mono or stereo, plus a micro-USB output for direct recording.

The footswitch is a decent bit of kit, though. You can use it to jump between presets in banks of five, turn individual effects on and off, or control the looper. 

I was highly impressed with the headphone and line outputs, which were simply excellent – in some cases more convincing than the speaker – making this amp just as well suited to late-night shredding and DI recording as it is to the temporarily lost art of playing live.

Pros

  • Amp modeling is convincing.
  • Plenty of tones
  • So many effects!
  • 200 presets allows makes saving tones a breeze.
  • Very user-friendly design.
  • Fender Tone app enhances the experience.
  • The seven-button footswitch is included.

Cons

  • The user interface could be more intuitive

Conclusion

Now you have all the information you need to go and get your new amp. As you can see, you have more than a few choices when it comes to buying an amp under $400, but whatever amp you decide to go with, surely you will be satisfied and rocking along to your favorite tunes in no time.

Expert Tip

All amps are not created equal. Certain companies design amps to sound better with different styles of music. Be sure to check the model of speakers that are coming along with the amp you are buying to ensure you’re going to get the most sound clarity for the money. Fender has always been known for country and folk music, whereas, BOSS has a reputation for heavier music. They can be interchangeable but it is something to keep in mind.

Written by:
Charles Barrett
Charles Barrett

Charles is a seasoned songwriter, producer, and composer for a California-based band. He specializes in marketing for musicians, in-depth tutorials on recording, music production, and other techniques, as well as reviews of recording-related instruments and gear.

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